Sunday, January 6, 2008

THE GIGS

Drummer Thadduex Dixon

Last week, I posted my five favorite jazz albums (which included new releases and re-issues) I purchased in 2007. I wanted to list 50, but my dear buddy William, a certified jazz guru, encouraged me to reduce the list. Shaving it down to five, he said, required careful consideration. I chose the five albums I played over and over. Surprisingly, William did not criticize my list. Days after he read it, he asked me for the five best jazz gigs I attended last year. Choosing five albums was tough because I bought a bunch of wonderful albums. I decided to simplify the process this time. I chose the gigs that I still think about.

1.) George Davidson Drum Summit
(Bert’s Marketplace)

This was the last jazz concert I attended in 2007. Master drummer George Davidson-who I first heard in 1997 playing with the late pianist Teddy Harris at the Wednesday night jam session at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge-assembled four of the finest Detroit based drummers, Bert Myrick, Sean Dobbins, Bill Higgins, and Spider Webb( that’s not a pseudonym) and let them slug it out. When the smoke settled the drummers were slumped over their drum kits, and the capacity crowd was hurry for more blood.

2.) The Second Annual Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music??
(The Bohemian National Home)

Hey Joel, I have to be honest with you. I didn’t think it was musically possible to put together a music fest and there not be one bad performance. You made it work, man.

3.) The James Carter Quintet
(The Detroit Institute of the Arts)

On this night saxophonist James Carter horns were full of special effects. There’s never an uninteresting moment at Carter’s live performances. The saxophonist shows a lot of love to Detroit jazz musicians, too. He likes working with his hometown colleagues. At the DIA gig, Carter was flanked by two of Detroit's finest bassist Ralph Armstrong and trumpeter Dwight Adams.

4.) The Thaddeus Dixon Quartet
(Baker’s Keyboard Lounge)

The 23-year-old drummer was bassist Rodney Whitaker’s protege’. Rodney, you did a great job raising this kid. As a bandleader, Dixon is not a ball-hog. He proved it by sharing the spotlight with his band-mates pianist Mike Jellick, bassist Ben Williams, and saxophonist Diego Rivera. These young musicians are Detroit’ next generation of swingers.

5.) Yusef Lateef
(Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival)

At 82, Lateef showed no visible indications his chops have rusted. When he played the blues my ears were glued to his horn from start to finish.
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